My name is Jolene Nelson; firstly I would like to thank you all for choosing to share some of your time with me as I navigate my path through this dynamic journey that is life. You could be watching clowns terrify people or kittens playing pianos, but you chose to be here. So thank you.
Over the past year, most things in my life have done a complete 180 and that has been both terrifying and exhilarating. The truth of the matter is, we don’t learn within our comfort zone, we can’t grow and develop if we have no reasons to challenge our own personal limits and sometimes we need someone or something to give us that initial push. While I have never been one to have any notable degree of respect for rules or boundaries, there is still something slightly terrifying when it comes to making any major life change, in that regard I’m not that different I suppose.
I was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica; the only child for my military father and my super detail oriented, borderline perfectionist mother. To say I had a structured, disciplined upbringing would be a generalization. To say that this may be a significant reason behind why I am so completely carefree and seek to actively defy convention, may also be entirely accurate.
My father’s military career allowed us to travel quite a bit through my very early years and by the age of 6, I had lived in Canada & England, spending time in Germany and Switzerland as well. We moved back to Jamaica and I picked up where I had left off school wise as a second generation Immaculate girl; Ad Astra Per Aspera!
I attended Immaculate Conception Preparatory School and later Immaculate Conception High School until I graduated in 1998 at the age of 15.
Many if not most of us probably grew up hearing our parents tell us that our years in school would be the best years of our lives and while I may not necessarily agree with that, those years were pretty amazing & definitely set the foundation for the woman I am today and the life long friendships that were made then have carried me through life. Immaculate girls, wherever inna di worl’ yuh deh – stand up!
While I had every intention of earning my “blue coat” at Immaculate and later attending U.W.I, life (and my parents) had other plans and the world as I knew it was turned upside down when I was informed we were moving to the Cayman Islands and I would actually be attending 6th form and University in Canada.
Anger, confusion, denial, shock…I felt each emotion acutely, then I felt nothing at all. How could I leave Jamaica? It was unfathomable to my 15 year old self and whilst I knew my life had now changed forever, I had no idea just how true that would be. So it was that in July of 1998, my mother and I packed up our entire lives and moved to Grand Cayman, my father would remain in Jamaica to maintain the family business and would visit intermittently but our world was officially uprooted.
Time heals all and while my pain at being forced to leave Jamaica and the only existence I knew remained, I forged a place for myself in this new life I had been handed. By September of that year I would be living in Port Hope, Ontario attending Trinity College School, having convinced my teenage BFF Leigh to join me in this frozen tundra.
T.C.S gave me my first two years living on my own, away from my family and parents and making my own rules; while I will always be exceptionally grateful for the experience, I don’t remember most of my classes nor do I remember most of my teachers. For those of my dear readers who may not come from a West Indian background, this may be a foreign concept but whenever an “islander” is displaced and living overseas, particularly somewhere with a less than tropical climate, we seek each other out and form an instant alliance. United by dominoes, jerk chicken, reggae music and a deep desire to be warm at all times, we become a force against bland food and winter the world over.
….thank you all for reading, this page is a work in progress, check back often, I update daily!